Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2011 Season: Marketing the harvest.

Marketing the harvest.


Photo 11: Ken and Patsy promoting our markets at a local event.

Photo 12:  Our fall display in Tilton, IL

Photo 13:  Up close view of fall offerings at Tilton stand.

Photo 14:  Debbie, Patsy and Norma, our marketers at Tilton farm stand.

Photo 15:  Fall offerings at our Howard (Sandtown), IN stand   

2011 Season: Bringing in the harvest.

Bringing in the harvest.


Photo 5:  Benny and Jason getting the melon harvesting conveyor ready.

Photo 6:  Adrian and Jason harvesting watermelons.

Photo 7:  Zach loading watermelons on the trailer.

Photo 8:  Adrian and Jason loading giant pumpkins.

Photo 9:  Patsy, Adrian and Jason with a load of big ones.

Photo 10:  Bill and Adrian on a loaded trailer.

2011 Season Summary: Late, Cold Start with Extremely Hot and Dry Main Season.

Well it seems that the non-stop 15hr days really do a number on my blogging. We are back to days and weeks where there is a little bit of slack time.  In the three blog entries today, I will try to give a very abbreviated pictorial summary of the season to date.  First: laying the foundation for the harvest.


Photo 1:  Harvesting wheat from next year’s produce fields.

Photo 2:  Debbie and Patsy transplanting watermelons.

Photo 3:  View on a hill of some of this season’s plantings.

Photo 4:  Irrigating pumpkins, a first for us.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Babysitting the crops. Most crops are in the field, now we feed and water them and protect them from pests.

I seem to operate better on a two week schedule (not that I am satisfied with this and I’ll try to do better).  We have filled the last two boxes of our Farm Share (CSA) no choice component.  This weekend our subscribers will begin to use their weekly credits to shop at our farm stand in our free choice component. 

We have planted the last watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet corn and pumpkins.  This week we will plant the last tomatoes.  We still will have small plantings of a few misc. crops. The next week is one of my favorite times of the season.  The crops will begin to grow explosively and for a brief moment we seem to be on top of diseases, insects, weeds and predators (crows, deer, raccoons and other wild life).  Shortly, reality will kick in and the great chess match will begin.


Photo 1:  7th CSA box

Photo 2: 8th CSA box

Photo 3:  Tomatoes ripening on the vine.

Photo 4:  Cantaloupes starting to net (form netting on the surface of the fruit).

Photo 5:  Burpless cucumber on the vine.

Photo 6:  Patsy with an early onion harvest.

Photo 7:  Watermelons starting to set in the field.

Photo 8:  Patsy and Norma’s Dad, John likes to keep an eye on things.   

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Early hot weather speeds everything up: Tomatoes and cantaloupes in June? Sweet corn before the fourth of July? It may be!

Well, it looks like I let two weeks slip by me without blogging.  The switch from wet and cool to hot has really compressed our transplanting season.  We have been transplanting every day for almost two weeks.  We just finished setting out the last of the pumpkins and squash.  We just have late, smaller plantings of seedless watermelon and tomatoes along with a handful of misc. transplanted crops to go yet.  We had a little bit of disease on some early watermelon transplants, but it was apparently a bacterial disease that is not very competitive once taken out of the greenhouse.  Checking our diagnostic materials and a call to Purdue extension, helped reassure us that this was not a serious disease and it fact it disappeared after a few days in the field.  We have a little bit of disease on tomato, an old acquaintance, early blight, that shows up every year and will not go away completely, even with treatment.  Our potato plantings, took a serious hit from Colorado Potato Beetles, we have tried two different sprays to hopefully get them under control.  We are irrigating some of our early cantaloupes, tomatoes and onions.  We are cultivating our conventional sweet corn and are considering an additional herbicide treatment.  We just planted our sweet corn that is compliant with organic standards, where we will not have the herbicide options.  This and the fact that we will not have conventional sprays to control earworms, makes me a bit anxious, but we have a plan and a backup plan (some overlapping conventional plantings). Weed control is a big focus for the upcoming week; spraying, cultivating, hoeing and pulling.  Patsy’s work load with transplants in the greenhouse will be considerably reduced with all the plants that have been planted outside the past couple weeks.  She will be focusing now on getting ready for marketing at our three market stands. Patsy, Jason, Norma, Debbie and I have been putting in some long days and weeks, but they will be getting longer in a couple weeks when harvesting and marketing kick in. The number of workers will triple when harvesting and marketing commence.     


Photo 1:  Week 4 Farm Share (CSA) box

Photo 2:  Week 5 Farm Share (needed to take the photo before the strawberries came in)

Photo 3:  Week 6 Farm Share (spring crops ending and summer crops beginning

Photo 4:  Transplanting watermelons on sandy hills

Photo 5:  Debbie and Norma on the trasplanter

Photo 6:  Potato planting

Photo 7:  Onion planting

Photo 8:  Zucchini setting on

Photo 9:  Our gambleloupes (actually have baseball size melons set on)

Photo 10:  Our candidate for first tomato

Friday, May 27, 2011

Beautiful heads of leaf lettuces; the deer love them and I am sure that you will too!

The bit of warm weather really gave the spring crops a boost and the subsequent drop in temperatures didn’t faze them, but it kept us scrambling to cover the tender, warm season crops; tomatoes, cantaloupes, cucumbers and summer squash.  A new threat emerged when the deer found our beautiful butterhead lettuces and wiped out one planting in one evening.  We covered the remainder of the planting with snow fencing and we will have some spectacular heads of leaf lettuce for our Farm Share subscribers and also to go with strawberries at our Tilton farm stand.  We have 8 plantings of sweet corn planted and our next 4 plantings will include organic fields, which means chicken litter compost, cultivation for weed control and dosing the silks on each ear with vegetable oil and an organic pesticide.  We are just starting to seed 75 varieties of pumpkin and winter squash in flats, which requires considerable planning and tracking, from trays to the field.


Photo 1:  Our third farm share offering.

Photo 2:  Early tomatoes and cantaloupe (gamblelopes) under low tunnels.

Photo 3:  Some of our CSA beds.

Photo 4:  Snow fence for deer protection.

Photo 5:  Heads of leaf lettuce.

Photo 6:  Jason spreading organic fertilizer on sweet corn fields.

Photo 7:  Debbie and Norma preparing for pumpkin and winter squash seeding.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First tomatoes set! Looks like an early season! Maneuvring around warm and dry, then wet, then cold weather.

Well it looks like two weeks have slipped by without a peep from me.  Pushing the season on a number of crops, much earlier than usual has kept us busy.  The early dry weather was a help in getting crops in early.  The wet weather in the beginning of May made it more difficult to get crops into the field and more difficult to get into town, but it did offer the benefit of some nice big mushrooms along with some giant overwintered spinach in the cold frame.  Our Farm Share (CSA) items were slow in coming on but we had our first offering last week.  We have managed to get 4 ½  acres of sweet corn, ½ acre of tomatoes,  ¼ acre of onions, ¼ acre of cantaloupes (gambleloupes) and 1/8  acre of potatoes planted but the current cold snap had us covering many of them up.  The spring crops in our Farm Share plantings really took off this past week.


Legend 1:  Our first week’s Farm Share

Legend 2:  Flooded shortcut to town

Legend 3:  Patsy with morels and overwintered spinach

Legend 4:  Farm Share beds in early May

Legend 5:  Our second week’s Farm Share

Legend 6:  Patsy and Norma transplanting tomatoes

Legend 7:  Fields being prepared for our first main season cantaloupe planting

Legend 8:  Early tomatoes and cantaloupes covered during cold weather